The problem in India is not of religion but the deadly cocktail that religion and politics create. I do support free speech and honestly think it's wrong [and a tad bit retarded] for the government to ask Google to shut down an Orkut group because of hate speech. The problem with riots in India is often due to politically motivated goals. A politician can polarise the public one way or another and thus sway the polls in his favour. This is the thing that pisses me off the most over here. People here are really intelligent, educated, compassionate, considerate, but if you drop the R-Bomb on them, they'll start acting like crazy lunatics the next second.
Censorship has always existed in India in a big way. You know, Fahrenheit 9/11 released here much later than in the rest of the world. But that's just the tip of the ice berg. The law and order situation prevents folks from using "free-speech" as a defence. If you DO say something against someone powerful and influential and said person finds out [and is affected], he'll surely send his goons to even the score. Sure, you won't get imprisoned for 'free-speech' but you might get worse.
This is certainly not the "END" of free-speech. And no, India is nothing like China at this point of time. Hell, I went to China and the folks there on the streets didn't know that something big had happened in Tienanmen Square. Now THAT IS CENSORSHIP!
Indians in general don't value free speech. We're a culture of followers [follow religion, follow elders, follow leaders, follow everyone] and any deviant (free-speech dude, atheist, etc. etc...) will probably get shut down. In all practicality, you can criticise religion, politics, people, the prime minister, policies and even the pope. Just be careful of who you do it in front of. You can be atheist but don't try and explain it to someone who is religious because you'll explain your beliefs much better than them and just end up confused as to why the other person still follows whatever they do. But that's probably just the same anywhere in the world. "A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything" - Nietzsche
And so what if they shut down an orkut group ? You think people can't express themselves any other place on the internet ? Basically, the Indian government just likes to exercise it's power where it can. Those are very few places.
Oh but as far as western hypocrisy is concerned. Come on guys, don't tell me about free-speech in your countries. Sure, I know that the new 'politically correct' USA has many issues with using certain words, phrases, etc. But look at how Switzerland banned the construction of Minarets as they are a symbol of Islam inspite of having a decent Muslim population. Things aren't as rosy in the west as they're made out to be. France banned the wearing of headgear for muslim women. That's religious expression. What about those dudes in the US who were "investigated" by the FBI for posting some random stuff online post 9/11 ?
Basically, everywhere sucks. Just relatively more or less. India is pretty free by most standards.
Sure, we have a problem in India. It's not as bad as China [not even comparable], and it'll never be, as long as we are allowed the free speech to admit to it. I hope though that the censorship folks realise that this is an exercise in futility. They never achieve any real censorship in India anyway. All our networks (Radio, tv, news, internet, word of mouth..) are way too out of control anyhow.
Besides, just chalk this one up to the Indian government being retarded as usual. Just add it to the list that already has the shutting down of public Wi-Fi after the Mumbai attacks [no coffee shop Wi-Fi anymore :(], requiring 10 verification documents to get a mobile sim, requiring to fill up a piece of paper everytime when entering the country and giving it with your passport and don't even get me started on the swine-flu line at the airports, plus all the other bizarre things that they think actually achieve something. These aren't leaders, these are politicians pretending to lead.